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Hidden Gems

Top Rated Attractions in Austin

Search Radius (Miles)
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

Charles Umlauf (1911-1994), one of the more famous Austin artists, was a prolific sculptor. This museum displays many of his works in a fantastic garden spot located close to Zilker Park and just minutes from downtown. His sculptures range from realism to abstraction and include families, religious figures, animals and mythological characters.

Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata

This hidden treasure is an offbeat and charming museum of arbitrary collections, including train tokens from all over the world. Sometimes special local events are hosted here as well. The museum is maintained by Jen Hirt and Scott Webel, who run the tours. Be sure to check out the Ephemerata Gardens, and know that the couple keeps cats around the venue.

Hyde Park Theatre

As the home of the Frontera Theatre company (which puts on the annual FronteraFest), this stage is the perfect place to catch a performance. Whether you like plays, dance, interpretive readings or even experimental projects, this theater has a show for you. The intimate environment (seats up to 80) is also often used for performances appropriate for children. Located in the middle of Hyde Park, one of Austin's more bohemian neighborhoods, the theater is a wonderful extension of the eclectic Austin way of life.

Elisabet Ney Museum

The former home and studio of German sculptress Elisabet Ney is open to the public for exploration. This home was one of the first buildings erected in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which was developed as a suburb in 1892 by Monroe Martin Shippe. Visitors flock to this museum to view nearly 50 busts and statues of Texas heroes, as well as Europeans she sculpted as a young artist. Her tools and several personal items are also on display. Admission is free.

O. Henry House Museum

Short story writer William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was O. Henry, lived in this home for three years while he spent time in Austin. It was constructed in 1891 and is filled with rare books, O. Henry's writing desk, original furniture, photographs, personal belongings and the chairs that brought The Gift of the Magi to life. Enjoy a guided tour and learn about the history of this home and its famous occupant. The house has been moved twice since from its original location at 308 East Fourth Street. It now features a gift shop with books, videotapes and more. The museum offers writing clubs for Austin children and sponsors many local events such as the Victorian Christmas celebration and the "O. Henry Pun-Off." Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Cathedral of Junk

Tucked away in the backyard of a residential neighborhood is the Cathedral of Junk, a work in progress over 20 years in the making. Created by Vince Hanneman, the Cathedral turns old and discarded items into an ever-evolving structural work of art. Using old tires, hubcaps, all manner of metal scraps, pipes and more, Hanneman works and reworks the multi-level space into a playground of sorts for adults and children alike. As far out as it is, the Cathedral of Junk is, surprisingly, invisible from the street in front of it — only upon entering the backyard are visitors met with the mass of tangled metal and functioning electric items.

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